The tech sector is critical to North Carolina’s economy and national security – The North State Journal

FILE – This Feb. 23, 2019, file photo shows the inside of a computer. A key part of President Joe Biden’s plans to combat major ransomware attacks and digital espionage campaigns has been dragging on for more than eight months. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

North Carolina is a hub of technological innovation. From high-tech manufacturing to biotechnology, big tech companies have flocked to our state in recent years, bringing high-paying jobs, growth and economic opportunity.

The technology sector alone supports more than 350,000 jobs, representing 20% ​​of the state’s overall employment. Technology contributes an estimated $48.9 billion annually to the state’s economy. This role is expected to continue to grow, with a 15% growth rate in tech occupations projected between 2020 and 2030. This puts the Tar Heel State alongside California and other top contenders for top net tech jobs in the country and opens the door to endless jobs. innovation.

For small businesses and Main Street America, technology tools and digital platforms have become an increasingly important lifeline. As we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, new technologies have often made the difference between keeping doors open and closing them permanently. Without online platforms and e-commerce tools, businesses would have struggled to reach customers and continue operations at all levels.

These online tools have been integrated into the day-to-day operations of small businesses, and many business owners say they will rely on these tools in the future to grow their sales and transcend geographic boundaries. In fact, a survey found that 65% of small businesses in North Carolina increased their use of digital tools during COVID-19 and more than half plan to use even more digital tools post-pandemic.

But the technology our state exports not only supports small businesses on Main Street and America’s global competitiveness, the technology developed by North Carolina companies also underpins national security and cybersecurity. the United States.

Given the importance of technology to our national security, military operations and capabilities, and cyber protection, America can more than ever afford to undermine its own tech sector. To do so would be to cede our leadership position to foreign adversaries, such as China, Russia and other autocratic regimes, who do not share American values ​​of a free and open Internet.

It has been reported that countries like China and Russia have used cyberattacks to undermine critical infrastructure, financial institutions and governments of opposing nations. Last month, Russia attempted to launch a cyberattack against Ukrainian government ministries and financial institutions as it also waged a physical war against the country. Belarus has also recently carried out extensive phishing campaigns against Ukraine and Poland.

As these attacks continue, we see how high the stakes are. For example, Russia restricted certain social media sites to eliminate “false information” surrounding its invasion of Ukraine.

As Congress considers a set of anti-innovation bills aimed at dismantling America’s most innovative companies, we risk killing the proverbial golden hen. Ceding America’s longstanding technological advantage to autocratic countries that abuse the Internet to control the flow of information and surveil their citizens would be a disaster for America’s national and economic security.

This legislation would cripple our nation’s technology innovators, some of whom call North Carolina home, reducing the innovation capabilities of these companies and creating barriers that could negatively impact the development of the cutting-edge technologies we need to stay competitive.

Forcing U.S. citizens and small businesses to rely on foreign-based platforms would potentially compromise our privacy, national security, and the free flow of information.

As we move forward, the people of North Carolina, small businesses, and American communities across the country depend on Congress to fight for American innovation and maintain leadership in our technology sector. By opposing these reckless proposals, Senator Tillis can continue his strong record of leadership and protect the national security of the United States, promote innovation, and ensure that we remain competitive in the face of the rise of China and Russia.

Jason Saine represents Lincoln County in the North Carolina House of Representatives and is the senior chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.